ENGL 197 Lecture 1: Nature Writing Notes

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Published on 14 Nov 2016
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Nature Writing Notes
-Crevecour is a French aristocrat, so his diction is that of someone well educated because he
was only writing to the upper class citizens
How accurate is his writing? because he’s only posing and has no actual experience
He inflated the american farming experience to make some French people want to be
farmers in America and immigrate
Romanticized portrait of nature
-Examples of romanticization:
King bird and the 171 bees and revived 54 of them
52 - animals are smart
52 - talking about eggs
61 - squirrels are super, hefting huge husks
Bees are “daughters of heaven”
54 - anthropomorphization of the birds
Swarm of bees the size of his hand
Ants are “perfect”
52 - astonished by myriads of insects
Talks about corn as life - “heart” and “embryo”
Amazed by seasons
“man is a huge monster that devours everything”
-He is elevating nature and showing how humans fit in to it
He has an old testament view of nature where the world was made for humans by God and
people should take care of it
-He is trying to teach his son how valuable animals are and how he should learn from them
Suggesting morality is seen in the reality nature
-Contradictions: manipulating vs. conserving nature
How does his view change when it relates to his personal gain?
Tuesday - Roderick Nash Lecture (Wilderness and the American Mind)
-What is the definition of wilderness?
Wilderness appears simple, but its definition varies with the viewer
-Americans generally have a utilitarian approach to wilderness
Historically Americans didn’t sit down and just enjoy nature’s beauty, they saw it as
something to be conquered so they could survive in spite of it because they were just
attempting to survive
-1830 Andrew Jackson: “what good man would prefer a country covered with forests and
ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and
prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry
execute” (41)
-American romanticism of nature
People who lived in cities were the people who romanticized the wilderness the most
Celebration of the sublime
-Sublime represents a combination of attraction and repulsion (connotative meaning)
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014
For Deists they saw wilderness and nature as a way God is revealed. Once feared and
detested, now celebrated
Primitivism: people liked to imagine how they could survive with just their bare hands
Beyond 1830s some pioneers started to appreciate nature beyond utilitarian value
-Emerson and Thoreau
Emerson: the study of nature was the most important things for the nation because he
thought the natural world was morally instructional so people could understand things that
transcend earth
-Transcendentalism: from objects man can intuitively or imaginatively transcend to
spiritual truths
Thoreau: balance of nature and civilization
-“to go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber, as from society” (142)
-There is no solitude in society
-Defining nature as “not man”
-Solitude is desired
-Humanity is “less pure”
-Nature is “pure”
Not a given, it shows his romanticization
-1836 view of children was that they were perfectly pure at birth
Shows a desire to return to childhood
“the lover of nature is he… who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of
manhood” (143)
-Humans are the ones who project feeling on nature through our perception of it
-Thoreau has a “wild” view of nature
“wild”: gives character, wild is good and civilization is bad
193 - swamps are cool
183 - what would become of us… in gardens
180 - absolute freedom and wilderness
193 - Ben Johnson
192 - the west is the wild
183 - walking for adventure
-Thoreau has a very wild, instinctual view of nature, whereas Crevecoeur sees nature through
a pastoral lens
-Style: tells reader the author’s view of nature
Metaphors and similes
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Smell, fragrance
Wind: God-like, has a will of its own
Orderly nature, everything has its place
Long sentences, layers of meaning
-Wants the reader to slow down
-Core part is at the beginning of the sentence and the remainder is a way to provide extra
description and captivate the brain
Wild storm/nature is good, pure, clean; society is weak, impure, dirty
-This idea challenges most people’s view of nature
-Challenged people’s conception of clean and dirty
-One perspective
“exuberant and florid”
-Florid: elaborate, intricate
Muir and Whitman
-Focused on music
When words are enough to explain something people turn to other methods, including
-Appeals to multiple audiences
Muir and Emerson
What is the message about innocence/childhood Standing Bear and Clemens make? How do
they go about this?
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
-Clemens believes that your childhood approach doesn’t last forever
-You can only fully appreciate nature when innocent
Luther Standing Bear
-Innocence is how you perceive things and childhood is full of opportunities
Standing Bear
-Knowledge of nature only comes from experience and living in the environment
-Civilization causes people to be disconnected from knowledge
Rachel Carson
-Marine biologist
-“Edge of the Sea”
Informational piece
Poetic writing style
-Simple perspective of nature (480) and she values the deeper knowledge people can get from
it (483)
“underlying the beauty of the spectacle there is meaning and significance” (485)
-Balances romantic point of view with science
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find more resources at oneclass.com